England pacer Mark Wood on Monday played down his expectations of involvement in England’s bid to regain the Ashes this summer and said that he will not feature in all five Test matches of the marquee series against arch-rivals Australia.
Back in the 2021/22 Ashes series, Wood was England’s best bowler, finishing as their leading wicket-taker with a total of 17 wickets. But the visitors could not avoid a 4-0 series loss in Australia.
He has played only three Tests since that series due to injuries and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) attempts to manage his workload this winter. The next edition of the prestigious series will start from June 16 onwards.
Test skipper Ben Stokes has expressed his desire to have eight seamers available for selection for the first Edgbaston Test of the series, but Wood said that if fitness permits, there could be “10 to 12 lining up”. He also expects the series to be “a group effort”.
In the recently concluded two-Test series against New Zealand, England made use of five frontline seamers, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Matthew Potts and Olly Stone. There are five more seamers with Test caps in Bangladesh for the ongoing white-ball tour, Jofra Archer, Sam Curran, Saqib Mahmood, Chris Woakes and Wood himself.
“I will definitely not play all five [Ashes Tests]. I was delighted to play four out of five in Australia. I was knackered, wrecked, exhausted [but] that was a big tick in my box to say that in a big series, I can do it, if Stokesy or Baz [McCullum] want me to play,” said Wood as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
“More than likely, with the bowling stock we have, especially at home, I probably would not even play four. They might even want me for one or two, if they need a pace element. He [Stokes] might want to mix it up to keep people fresh, but if people are playing well, I might not play any.”
“I very much doubt, from the way they have managed me, [that I will play] four. If they want three or four, I will put my hand up,” concluded Wood.
After a hectic schedule that started with a T20I tour to Pakistan in September, included the ICC T20 World Cup and ended with a Test tour to Pakistan in December, Wood took a two-month break before the tour of Bangladesh to recharge himself both mentally and physically.
“It was lovely, to be honest,” Wood said about his time away from the game.
“To be able to spend time at home and not think about cricket for a little bit was really nice. It made us hungrier when I have come back in. It sits really well with me. In the past there have been times I should not have played and I have. Having it taken out of your hands, saying’ gear up for this one’, you can fully focus your mind and body.”
“The breaks have helped prolong me a bit more than previous years, when I have tried to play everything. I am never going to turn down the chance to play for England: if they want me I will be there and trying my best, but if they decide to rest us, I get it and [will be] gearing up for the next one,” the pacer concluded his point.
After the white-ball tour of Bangladesh, Wood will head to India for the Indian Premier League (IPL), in which he will be representing the Lucknow Super Giants. After the Ashes series in June will arrive The Hundred in August. It will lead to England’s white-ball fixtures in September and then the ICC Cricket World Cup in India in October-November. His wife Sarah is also expecting a daughter at May-end.
“With my record, I might get [through] two of them. So it will be nice to have had that time off at the start of the year. I think it is hard for some multi-format players to juggle but Rob Key’s really good with speaking, ‘look, I think we will give you a little bit off there and then come flying back in for here,” said Wood.
“I have done interviews in the past where I have said, ‘of course I am thinking about the Ashes in the background’ [but] I am actually not. There is so much going on before: we have got this, the T20s, the IPL and then the Ashes after that. I have got the birth of my daughter in between that, so it is going to be a massive time, I am not really thinking that far ahead,” concluded Wood.
England is playing the third ODI of the Bangladesh series on Monday. The three-match T20I series will be starting from March 9 onwards. (ANI).